Five In One


Jan. 10, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 04 No .-14 Jan. 07-2011 (Poush 23,2067)

'Chalo India, say Big 5 world leaders' reads one of the news headlines in an Indian online media. Indeed, emerging super-power India played host to the leaders of five powerful nations in the last six months.

While all the visits focused on economic, defense and nuclear deals, the still-prevailing uneasiness in bilateral ties between India and China also came to the fore.

Interestingly, after the US President Barack Obama, it was Chinese Primier Wen Jiabo, who garnered maximum interest. Experts had rightly expected that Obama would hold talks and strike deals that would ensure job prospects back home. He made deals worth $15 billion that would create nearly 54,000 jobs in the US and set a target of $75 billion by 2015. A defence deal worth $5.8 billion was also signed.

Addressing the joint parliament on the last day of his visit, Obama backed India for a permanent seat in the UNSC. He strongly urged Pakistan to act against the perpetrators of the November 2008 Mumbai attack and condemned it for supporting terrorist activities. His longest trip abroad as a President  was also marked with visits to school children, question-answer session with colleges students and visit to Gandhi memorial and paying condolence to the victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

As for the Wen viist, India was hoping that China would sympathetically touch on issues of Kashmir, terrorism in Pakistan and India's bid for the UNSC permanent seat. Hopes have been belied. China failed to address the issue India hoped it would. Although economic deals worth $16 billion were signed, Premier Wen did not even mention Kashmir in his statements and just reiterated Beijing’s support for India's 'aspirations' for a permanent membership but did not show signs of strongly supporting its candidature. India,countered by refusing to reiterate the 'one China' policy.

With fear of 'hurting' sentiment of old friend Pakistan, no mention was made of the 2008 Mumbai attack in any of the statements. Unlike Obama, Wen did not even show interest in paying condolences to the victims of the attack. What's more, the Primier next stop after Delhi was Islamabad, a strategic move as India prefers visiting leaders not to head to Pakistan from its soil. Critics pointed out that the visit of the Chinese Primier to Pakistan was more successful than his visit to India.

China apart, the other leaders shared one thing in common with Obama. Besides economic and trade agreements, they also signed  huge defense and nuclear deals , which is a vital achievement on India's part. While French company Areva signed agreement to set up nuclear reactors in India , Russia promised to co - design a fifth generation fighter aircraft. They backed India's aspirations for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and strongly condemned Pakistan for failing to check terrorist activities in its soil.

It  was the first time in the history that heads of state or government all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) paid visit to a country in a such a short span of time.

The message was clear for the world powers to see: India is up next!

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